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How dirty is your ice?

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - You expect when you go into a restaurant and order a drink that your ice will be clean. In fact you'll be amazed at what ABC 4 found. We found bacteria and fungus at levels that could make you sick.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - You expect when you go into a restaurant and order a drink that your ice will be clean. In fact you'll be amazed at what ABC 4 found. We found bacteria and fungus at levels that could make you sick.

Some business owners didn’t even know why it was dirty.

You put ice in your drink and you want it to be clean and you expect restaurants to keep it that way.

“It's probably more of a widespread thing than most people know,” said owner of Summit Ice Brian Washnock.

But we found out in our ABC 4 undercover investigation that the ice you're eating can be downright dirty.

We randomly picked several Salt Lake Valley restaurants and one ice company that claims its ice is pure.

We collected a cup of ice from most and a bag of ice from Summit Ice.

We marked and sealed the samples according to procedures given us by the lab and then the testing began.

Five businesses under the microscope: Sages Café, Tsunami Restaurant, Mo’s Place, European Pizza, and Summit Ice.

The president of Summit Ice Brian Washnock agreed to do an interview before we even got results. He showed confidence their ice would turn out clean.

“People assume because were freezing it and it's being put in a freezer that it's going to kill the contaminates or bacteria which is false,” said Washnock.

Summit Ice takes precautions to keep their ice clean. No humans touch the ice. They use stainless steal, and they practice food handling standards when making ice.

Their lab results confirmed their prediction.

Both of their samples for bacteria and fungus came out clean.

But we can't say the same for the other businesses in our investigation.

“The ice machines don't get cleaned as frequently as they should so they can potentially become bacteria traps,” said Washnock.

Sage's Café and Tsunami had traces of bacteria and fungus but the two worst offenders were Mo's Place and European Pizza.

We wanted to find out why, so we took our cameras in and asked the tough questions.

At Mo's Place the owner Rick showed us his ice machine.

“So you got this machine four years ago and you haven't cleaned it since?” said Brian Carlson from ABC 4 News.

“No,” answered Rick.

We showed him the pictures of the bacteria and fungus in his ice, which tested positive for pseudomonas aeruginosa or "water bug."

According to the health department, it can make the average person sick and can potentially cause death to someone with a weakened immune system.

Rick has been serving that to customers.

“I drank it more than anyone so I feel terrible about it,” said Rick.

And because of our investigation, he said he changed his ways.

“I didn't know it was a problem. I do now. It's clean and it will be consistently clean now,” said Rick.

The other worst offender was European Pizza.

“You’re the manager?” asked Brian Carlson. “Yes” said the man behind the counter. “Are you also the owner?” asked Carlson. “Yes,” said the man.

We showed him the photos of his ice samples. There was fungus thriving on his sample of ice.

“This tested for fungus too numerous to count. Do you think that's healthy to be serving to customers?” asked Carlson.

“No, but I don't know what caused that,” said the owner of European Pizza.

He showed us the ice machine but still had no answers about why his ice is dirty.

“You don't have any explanation?” asked Carlson. “No I don't,” answered the owner.

He gave us the same answer over and over again until he kicked us out.

“I am done with you guys,” said the owner.

So how can you avoid dirty ice like we found in our investigation?

“If you see particles and things in the ice I would be a little leery of ingesting that ice,” said Washnock.

Or you might just do what Washnock does.

“I'm the guy who gets a bottled soft drink in a sealed bottle, hopefully cold,” said Washnock.

Better a warm soda then a cold one full of bacteria and fungus.

The health department doesn't test ice for bacteria and fungus.

They told ABC 4 they only do a visual inspection. The requirement to pass is the ice machines must be maintained enough to be clean at sight and touch.

The locations are:

European Pizza Deli
2850 S Redwood Road
West Valley City, UT
Mo's Place
497 W 4800 South
Murray, UT
Tsunami Restaurant
2233 S Highland
Salt Lake City, UT
Sage's Cafe
473 E 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT
Summit Ice
1675 Empire Rd.
Salt Lake City, UT
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